Monday, April 11, 2016

Monday Post

Recapping the beginning of the work-week...

Oh, how embarrassing!

(Sidebar: the story here.)

A local school board is scolding the Halifax Chronicle Herald for a story published Saturday that alleged new students from Syria were bullying other students.

The original article — based on the accounts of two unnamed mothers and an unnamed grandparent who shared allegations of bullying and threatening behaviour by some new refugee children — has since been removed from the Chronicle Herald’s website.

“I was deeply offended to see the school represented so inaccurately,” superintendent of the Halifax Regional School Board Elwin LeRoux said in a message to staff.

“I have spoken directly to Sarah Dennis, the owner of the Chronicle Herald. I told her that the accusations, the language and the tone of the article were both harmful and hurtful to students, staff and the community of Chebucto Heights [Elementary School] – and to our entire school system. They’re also not true.”

On its website, the Chronicle Herald acknowledged the story was “incomplete and insufficiently corroborated, given the serious nature of the allegations.”

The newspaper also responded to describing the allegations in the headline as “brutality,” by saying the wording was unfortunate.  

“Using the word brutality to describe children, particularly of an identifiable cultural group, is problematic,” the Chronicle Herald stated on its website.

The Halifax Regional School Board says Chebucto Heights has 1,500 students and families requiring additional English language support and 450 of those have arrived since September 2015.

The mental gymnastics of all parties involved is just mind-boggling to behold. 

The Chronicle-Herald didn't feel an urgent editorial need when it first ran the story. If the event did not occur or was not "brutal" (I don't know what other word one would use to describe a chain around a girl's neck), then why print the story? It's not like the current excuse of idiocy is a sound rationale for future trust and readership but the Chronicle-Herald staff must know what it is doing.

As is evidenced by their regret of the word "brutality" when describing alleged refugee miscreants' act, the staff members of the Chronicle-Herald have again hoisted themselves by their own petard. Was the story of two Muslim boys strangling a Canadian girl true or was it simply embarrassing that it was reported at all because, you know, The Narrative?

The staff of Chebucto Heights Elementary School and the family are just as contradictory. I didn't see anywhere in the article that a staff member from the school (it was a superintendent as the spokesman for this debacle) deny this story. Instead, it was represented "inaccurately".

Trust me, no amount of ESL teachers will get rid of that strangling feeling. If strangling is a cultural misunderstanding, then one might want to eject certain parties from the country.

(Paws up)

The Leap Manifesto, the unimaginative title of a playbook so far to the left that even Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and labour leader Gil McGowan have rejected it, reads thusly:

Moving to a far more localized and ecologically-based agricultural system would reduce reliance on fossil fuels, capture carbon in the soil, and absorb sudden shocks in the global supply – as well as produce healthier and more affordable food for everyone.

There is more unworkable wackiness but this point in particular sticks in the collective craw.

Fashioned and championed by Naomi Klein and her pet husband, Avi Lewis (themselves scion of well-off communists), it reads as a typical leftist screed devoid of reality. Reliance on oil is a reality whether Mrs. Avi Lewis cares for it or not. She is more than welcome to use her scientific or engineering skills to come up with alternatives to personal vehicles and how they are to be fueled.

Oh, wait....

I studied philosophy and literature, but I actually left when I got offered this job at the Globe and Mail. It was an election - I went as a summer intern, and I had a couple of credits left. And then there was an election campaign, pretty sort of hot election campaign, and they asked me to stay on. And I never actually made it back to school. So yes.

Well, I'm sure she could use that background to explain how the nomadic "indigenous" people all got along and treated their women and children with respect and dignity:

In Canada, the majority of slaves were not of African, but rather of Aboriginal origin.  Native populations customarily subjugated war captives before the arrival of the French, but this practice acquired new meanings and unprecedented proportions in the context of western expansion.  Beginning in the 1670s, the French began to receive captives from their Aboriginal partners as tokens of friendship during commercial and diplomatic exchanges.  The Illinois were notorious for the raids which they led against nations to the southeast and from which they brought back captives.  By the early eighteenth century, the practice of buying and selling these captives like merchandise was established. 

The ethnic origin of Aboriginal slaves is occasionally specified in period documents.  They included Foxes and Sioux from the western Great Lakes, Inuit from Labrador, Chickasaws from the Mississippi valley, Apaches from the American southeast, and especially “Panis”.


The social organization of several Plains First Nations was influenced by their neighbours and trading partners—the First Nations of the Pacific Coast. As a result, the Dakelh-ne (Carrier), Tahltan and Ts'ilh'got'in (Chilcotin) adopted the stratified social systems of the Pacific Coast Nations, which included nobles, commoners and slaves. 

Oh, heavens to Betsy! This isn't working out at all.

I mean- if Mr. and Mrs. Avi Lewis can't explain how to fuel public vehicles (assuming anyone can still own a car -  it's not really said) or how the "indigenous" (their word) peoples respect all of God's creatures or how jacking up the minimum wage will be fair and practical to everyone, how ever do they expect this thing to get off of the ground?

And then there is that dreadful title.

Mao Zedong, founder of the People's Republic of China, qualifies as the greatest mass murderer in world history, an expert who had unprecedented access to official Communist Party archives said yesterday.

Speaking at The Independent Woodstock Literary Festival, Frank Dikötter, a Hong Kong-based historian, said he found that during the time that Mao was enforcing the Great Leap Forward in 1958, in an effort to catch up with the economy of the Western world, he was responsible for overseeing "one of the worst catastrophes the world has ever known".

Mr Dikötter, who has been studying Chinese rural history from 1958 to 1962, when the nation was facing a famine, compared the systematic torture, brutality, starvation and killing of Chinese peasants to the Second World War in its magnitude. At least 45 million people were worked, starved or beaten to death in China over these four years; the worldwide death toll of the Second World War was 55 million.

I suppose when selling that title it would help if no one knew anything about Chinese history.

A propaganda poster printed during the time of the Great Leap Forward.

Thirteen North Koreans defect to South Korea in a mass defection:

Yonhap is reporting this morning that 13 North Koreans —12 women and a male manager working at one of its overseas restaurants in an unidentified country — have defected and arrived safely in South Korea. The impetus for this unprecedented mass defection? Sanctions — which never work, so we’ve been told.  

What’s extraordinary about this mass defection is that these restaurant workers are hand-picked, core-class loyalists. Here’s a short list of the levels of significance here:

1. Sanctions are undoing the regime’s financial bindings;

2. The regime is incapable of duct-taping those bindings together with resources from other state organs, possibly because those organs are functioning as semi-independent and competing feifdoms;

3. If the financial bindings come undone, loyalty and ideology aren’t enough to hold people;

4. At least some members of the core class — indeed, some of its most visible members — are disgruntled;

5. Disgruntled members of the core class are willing to share and conspire about their disgruntlement with each other, including the guy whose job it was to “manage” them, and act on it;

6. The South Korean government is willing to help North Koreans act on their disgruntlement; and
7. The South Korean government is willing to talk about all of this publicly, and thus inflict severe wounds to the regime’s morale, and possibly encourage other defections.

I can’t think of any other example of a mass defection by members of North Korea’s elite class. This is unprecedented. One likely consequence of it is that the regime itself will begin to call its restaurant workers home, and possibly shut down its other restaurants. As I’ve noted, the restaurants are probably more important as a cover for money laundering than for the income they generate. That means that the closure of the restaurants will put additional pressure on the regime’s foreign income streams.
Although many North Koreans flee in groups, mass defections are pretty rare.

Sanctions are also pretty pointless unless one is willing to put sanctions on North Korea's backer, China.

Something terrible is coming down the pipe.


After an electoral drubbing, the leader of the Saskatchewan NDP has stepped down:

Saskatchewan NDP Leader Cam Broten stepped down Monday after a crushing provincial election result that included losing his own seat.

Broten said the decision was "for the good" of the party and his family.

"This was not an easy decision. I love this province and its people. I love public service and I love this political party," Broten said at a park in Saskatoon. ...

In the end, the NDP took 10 of 61 seats in the legislature in the April 4 vote. New Democrats held nine seats going into the election and had hoped for a good number more to show momentum in the party's rebuilding efforts.

Broten lost his Saskatoon Westview seat by 232 votes to a 35-year truck driver who lives in a village about half an hour from the constituency.

 A fire at a Newfoundland fish plant has destroyed a town's economy:

A small Newfoundland town declared a state of emergency Monday after a massive fire swept through a fish plant, dealing a devastating economic blow that will be felt as far away as Thailand.

I'm sure Trudeau will be down within a week or two for some consolatory selfies and perhaps a vague and hastily-put-together economic plan for that town to get back on its feet. After all, the town voted Liberal. Doesn't it deserve something for its efforts?

An alleged pervert is being supported by numerous concerned individuals:

Prominent Toronto pastor Brent Hawkes pleaded not guilty Monday to decades-old sex-crime allegations in Nova Scotia, where supporters gathered outside a Kentville courtroom to denounce the charges as outdated and unfair.

Hawkes, 65, is accused of indecent assault on a male and gross indecency related to allegations of a sexual assault against a minor in 1974 and 1975.

The alleged victim was 15 and 16 years old at the time, Nova Scotia's Public Prosecution Service said. Few other details have been released about the case.

The accused did not appear in provincial court Monday. Halifax lawyer Joel Pink appeared on behalf of Hawkes' Toronto lawyer, Clayton Ruby. Pink declined to comment after the proceedings, as did Ruby.

It's time to return to standards that have worked for decades rather than carry on with haphazard "discovery" methods that have proven to be ineffective:

When it comes to improving the math skills of Ontario students, the $60 million recently pledged by the province will likely just make matters worse, suggests University of Manitoba mathematics professor Robert Craigen.

"Guess what, you've just funded the ideas that are already causing the problems," he said.
In fact, says Craigen, when you look at the spending on math education per pupil across Canada, there's an inverse relationship — provinces spending the most are getting the worst results.

The problem, says Craigen and other critics of the math curriculum being used across the country, are teaching methods that de-emphasize learning the basic skills. Multiplication tables, long division, adding and subtracting big numbers and computing fractions — these fundamentals, critics say, are being minimized in the classrooms. 

"There are even parents we are hearing from in Ontario saying 'I taught my child how to add down columns and the teacher sent a note home saying please stop teaching the old algorithms to the students because it's harming them,'" he said.

Instead, the focus has been placed on the so-called discovery or inquiry method of learning, where memorization is discouraged and the teacher is more of a guide to encourage students to try different ways to figure out problems, often using materials like blocks or drawing pictures.

What is happening is the academic equivalent of getting students to run before they can crawl. Does one make pancakes without first mixing in flour? Then why tell a student to forgo multiplication tables, a proven method?

When I taught ESL, I forbade my students from using colloquialisms until they understood the rudiments of the English language and why, how or when colloquialisms were used. It was pointless to have them jump into conversational situations when they had no understanding of basic grammar or vocabulary.

I have no idea why anyone would start in the middle only to stumble their way back to the beginning.

And now, saving a guinea pig's life:

Polk firefighters rescued a tiny pet from a smoke-filled home in Mulberry Friday.


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